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Caroline Brothers was born in Australia. She has a PhD in history from University College London and has worked as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Latin America. She has contributed to the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Guardian, Independent and Sunday Times Magazine among others, and was a reporter and an editor at the International New York Times. She is the author of War and Photography, and the novel Hinterland, first published by Bloomsbury in 2012. She divides her time between London and Paris.
Buenos Aires. 1976. In the heat of summer, the Ferrero family escapes to the lush expanse of Tigre. Osvaldo, a distinguished doctor, and his wife Yolanda, gather with their daughters, sensible Julieta who lives in Miami, and wilful Graciela – nineteen, and madly in love with her fiancé, José. Those days will be the last the family ever spends together.
On their return to Buenos Aires, the Argentine military stages a coup. Friends and colleagues disappear overnight, and Osvaldo is forced to flee to Europe. When José is abducted, Graciela goes into hiding, then vanishes in turn. Osvaldo can only witness the disintegration of his family from afar, while Yolanda fights on the ground for some trace of their beloved daughter. Soon she realises they may be fighting for an unknown grandchild as well.
Heartbreaking and beautiful, The Memory Stones tells the story of the Disappeared, thousands of Argentinians who fell victim to the violence of the period. Depicting the despair and hope of one family seeking to rebuild itself after unimaginable loss, it is a lyrical, devastating portrait of a country that has come face to face with terror and the long, dark shadow it leaves behind.
It is night, and two boys are crossing a river that is also a border. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs, their inheritance stitched into the lining of a belt, and the courage of an enormous gamble: that Europe will offer them a future they can no longer wait for in Afghanistan.
Travelling by truck, by boat, by train, by bus and on foot, Aryan and his younger brother Kabir have embarked on an epic journey, clinging to an itinerary they repeat like a mantra so as not to lose their way: Kabul-Tehran-Istanbul-Athens-Rome-Paris-London. There are moments of wonder and adventure but also battles against cold, heat, hunger, violence and exhaustion. Whether they are harvesting half-frozen oranges in Greece, or hiding behind a false wall on a truck to Italy, or sleeping under the rafters of a sawmill in France, the brothers are exploited for their labour, hustled for their money and ignored by almost everyone, except the police.
Hinterland is a novel about two children in the aftermath of trauma; underage, homeless and invisible in a foreign land. It shows what happens when the adult world rushes in, and what our universe looks like from the other side of the glass, to those displaced children who are out there, even now, on the road.
Francesco Chiappelli is European-born and raised. He came to UCLA as a foreign student in 1972, obtained his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degrees at UCLA. Followings post-doctoral training at UCLA, and two additional years of training at the UCLA-Harbor Country Hospital, he obtained his first 5-yrs NIH grant and established his laboratory on the grounds of the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration, with a joint appointment on the research faculty at UCLA. In 1994, he was recruited by the UCLA School of Dentistry for his work on mind-body connections, and the impact of (dental) anxiety on cellular immune surveillance, and has remained on the faculty there ever since. He soon established the first curriculum in evidence-based dentistry in the US at UCLA, and diverted his research interest to comparative and translational effectiveness. For his work in this field, he was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and was conferred an honorary doctorate. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and several books on the topic of translational effectiveness and comparative effectiveness research. He collaborates widely across the world on this field, from Europe, to Australia, from Brazil to the Philippines, and mentors US and foreign graduate students from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia. He continues to write actively in the field.
Comparative effectiveness research pertains to the direct, succinct and precise comparison of existing healthcare interventions to determine what works best for each individual patient, and which treatment course poses the greatest benefits, costs and harms. It consists of the very “engine” of translational effectiveness, and translational science at large. The core question of comparative effectiveness research goes beyond establishing what treatment works best, for whom, and under what circumstances: it is a hypothesis-driven endeavor designed to uncover and implement the consensus of the best evidence base for patient-centered, effectiveness-focused and evidence-based health care.
Global Virology II will be available late 2016/early 2017.
Writing from a historical perspective, Diana Church often incorporates references to literature, art or architecture in the narrative. Travel is also an important part of creating a story; the sites and scenery, as well as conversations with local individuals, often reveal significant details that simply cannot be found during archive and library research.
In her book Silent Legacy, Ellen O’Donnell, a retired detective and genealogist, is a little eccentric about her daily routine and somewhat obsessed with tracking down every possible clue. On the trail of a family mystery about a young woman who emigrated from Germany, she doggedly searches for answers in the libraries and archives of San Francisco, interviews friends and relatives, then examines documents in the musty courthouse vaults of Oklahoma and Nebraska. Continuing her pursuit, Ellen looks for answers at the New York Public Library and during a tour of tenement districts, then travels to Germany. In the charming 16th century villages of Wuerttemberg, she discovers a secret the family never discussed.
If you are interested in learning how historical events can affect families, you will enjoy reading this genealogy mystery novel.
Early modern historian Stefano Dall’Aglio is a research fellow at the University of Leeds, UK. He has published several books on the political and religious history of Renaissance Florence and Italy.
In 2015 Yale University Press published Dall’Aglio’s book ‘The Duke’s Assassin’, the compelling story of two murders in Renaissance Italy, based on original archival research. The book sheds new light on the notorious Florentine Lorenzino de’ Medici (also known as Lorenzaccio) and on two of the most infamous assassinations of Italian Renaissance history, basing his work on extensive research in the historical archives of Florence and Simancas. The first publication in a century, and the first work in English, to examine the life of Lorenzino de’ Medici, this fascinating revisionist history is as gripping as a detective novel, as Dall’Aglio unravels a 500-year-old mystery.
The book is available on Amazon.
Kristin Louise Duncombe
“How can you be sick of living in Paris?”
Life unravels when American psychotherapist Kristin Louise Duncombe faces being uprooted again—to follow her husband from their secure nest in Paris to bourgeois Lyon. The result is a touchstone memoir for anyone facing a move, dealing with marital ghosts, or confronting the professional death of starting anew.
Duncombe’s unique specialty is helping “trailing spouses” maintain their sanity while following their other half around the globe. But she must reconfigure everything she thought she knew about her “expat expertise” when her child sinks into existential crisis, addiction to Lyonnais cream puffs blooms, and tea time is to be had with glamorous French moms whose sex lives include swingers’ parties.
This boisterous, big-hearted book provides a compelling glimpse into love, family, and sex in France, and a modern family grappling with the inevitable downs – and ups – of building a new life.
Elizabeth Farrelly is one of Australia’s liveliest and most provocative writers on architecture, cultural life and the environment. A former Assistant Editor of the Architectural Review in London, and winner of the CICA International Critics’ Award, the Pascall Prize for Critical Writing, and the Marion Mahony Griffin Award, she is a weekly opinion columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, a frequent social commentator on Australian television and radio, and Associate Professor (Practice) in the Australian Graduate School of Urbanism at the University of New South Wales.
Welcome to Blubberland—a world of quadruple-garaged mansions, vast malls, gated communities, stretch limos, and posh resorts. Blubberland is a place, but it is also a state of mind: we expect to be happy (trophy house, SUV in the driveway, home entertainment system, pension fund, cosmetic surgery), but in fact we’ve grown increasingly bloated, bored, and miserable. In Blubberland, award-winning critic Elizabeth Farrelly looks at our “superfluous superfluity,” our huge eco-footprint, and asks why we find it so hard to abandon habits we know to be destructive. Why can’t we build human-scale cities, design meaningful public spaces, eat reasonable meals, and stop assaulting nature?
Farrelly, trained as an architect, begins this story with architecture, urban sprawl, and housing, but she does not end there. She also looks at “affluenza,” childhood asthma, diabetes, addiction, beauty, ugliness, narcissism, climate change, mega-churches, big box retailers, sustainability, depression, anorexia, and the links that collect all of these issues under the same roof—the roof, as it were, of the McMansion. As “big” becomes more and more pervasive, and success is seen in increasingly measurable and material terms, the goal of happiness jeopardizes our survival. Blubberland is a smart, thoughtful, and stylish argument for turning things around.
Also translated into Turkish.
Fiction Age 10-12 yrs
Whose idea of an adventure is this?
One match, one chance, she thinks. Make it count. Skipping school to lead a group of friends – and enemies – on an adult-free excursion to an island in Sydney Harbour is Caro’s idea of a twelfth birthday outing. Marooned overnight? She can handle that too. But the challenges multiply. They’re not alone on the island, and Caro must save her friends from life-threatening danger.
Described as “A cool, contemporary mystery adventure, an addictive, pacey read… a deliberately uber-thrilling situation, where backstories add depth to the main characters” by Joy Lawn, Boomerang Books 14th August 2014.
Madeleine Touria Godard
An expat since she was five, exile is a theme that has always attracted Madeleine Touria Godard. When retired from education, she first focused on colonial Algeria where a side of her family lived, then she moved to contemporary Algeria. She is currently exploring the exile theme in another form: a novel taking place in Northern Europe and West Africa.
Expat depuis ma jeunesse, j’ai vécu puis travaillé (enseignement) dans divers pays, anglo-saxons en particulier. Je vis principalement maintenant entre la France et Les Pays-Bas. J’ai toujours été fascinée par les langues et des cultures différentes, par l’adaptation à un autre monde, par l’Autre. Par le phénomène d’exil qu’un départ de sa culture d’origine peut (ou non) engendrer et le rôle de l’Histoire dans l’exil de groupes particuliers. Le thème de l’exil se retrouve dans mes poèmes (en anglais) et maintenant dans mes livres (en français).
Linking Algerian colonial history to the « memory » of a French family, the latter based on letters she inherited and backed by historical research and interviews, the author progressively reconstructs the life, tragedies and secrets this colonial family experienced till 1944.
Face à l’Histoire d’une Algérie coloniale, l’auteure fait resurgir, avec ses incompréhensions et ses secrets, la mémoire d’une famille française émigrée en Algérie – ses ancêtres. Apparaît progressivement le passé singulier d’un jeune couple, ses parents, plongé dans la tourmente de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Le non-dit d’une mère autour de ce “conte algérien” avait créé dans son esprit un mystère, une “mémoire de l’ombre”.
The voices of exiled Algerians during the 1990’s civil war and its long aftermath; this includes the ongoing elite migration. These voices are heard via interviews, a dialogue between two trauma specialists and historical research.
« Les Algériens, complainte d’exil », placé dans le cadre historique de la guerre civile et ses séquelles, par le biais de longs entretiens proches du récit et les clarifications qu’offrent deux psychologues expérimentés, fait entendre les voix du sentiment d’exil, mais aussi l’espoir qu’un départ contraint de son pays natal peut engendrer.
Veronica Goodchild, PhD, is a professor of Jungian Psychotherapy and Imaginal Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She received her PhD from Pacifica (1998) and has a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University, NYC (1980). She has practiced as a Jungian psychotherapist for almost 30 years, and is the author of numerous articles as well as Eros and Chaos: The Sacred Mysteries and Dark Shadows of Love. Veronica lives in Summerland, California.
Songlines of the Soul: Pathways to a New Vision for a New Century (2012, Nicolas-Hays, Inc.). Forward by Thomas Moore.
Songlines of the Soul proposes a new paradigm of reality, a new worldview. The signatures of this new reality are arising both in our own experiences and all around us if only we can stretch wide our stubbornly held perceptions of what is “reality.” As we stand at a crucial turning point in our human history, this book offers hope, a call to awaken and expand our perceptions of the fundamental principles that orchestrate reality.
In an age when the answers offered by governments and traditional religion are no longer sufficient, the quest for meaning must–as it always has in the past–arise first through visions, dreams, and journeys to other dimensions of consciousness.
James A. W. Heffernan is Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College and founding editor of Review 19, an online review of books on nineteenth-century English and American literature.
In works of Western literature ranging from Homer’s Odyssey to Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the giving and taking of hospitality is sometimes pleasurable, but more often perilous. Heffernan traces this leitmotiv through the history of our greatest writings, including Christ’s Last Supper, Macbeth’s murder of his royal guest, and Camus’s short story on French colonialism in Arab Algeria. By means of such examples and many more, this book considers what literary hosts, hostesses, and guests do to as well as for each other. In doing so, it shows how often treachery rends the fabric of trust that hospitality weaves.
More information, including a brief video, can be seen at yalebooks.com.
Princeton University Press, July 2015.
Konrad H. Jarausch is Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Born during the Second World War and raised in post-war Germany, he made his academic career in the United States and has published extensively on Germany and Europe. As former director the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam, he considers himself a transatlantic mediator between Europe and the United States.
The book takes a critical look at the development of Europe in the long twentieth century. During the first quarter it shows how the sense of progress turned into despair during the First World War but recovered somewhat in the 1920s. The Great Depression then led to the Nazi seizure of power which then precipitated another, even more deadly Second World War and Holocaust. But the old continent surprisingly recovered and became more democratic with the spread of the welfare state. With integration it has put an end to wars and the European model has become the only serious alternative to the American way of life.
Prem Souri Kishore
India A Culinary Journey (Hippocrene Publishing, audible.com)
American fiction writer, essayist Gloria Whelan writes in her review of the book, “Prem Souri Kishore has written something much more than a cookbook. This is a love letter to India, full of loving descriptions of food, and fond memories of the kitchens of her mother and grandmother where she was first initiated into the world of food. Food is truly seen as a gift from the gods, and her description of the eating of a mango with the juices dripping down her naked body is pure sensual poetry. Traditions and customs are described, as are spices and exotic ingredients. Different parts of India are given their own story. The Indian kitchen is explored. There are many unique as well as traditional recipes. It would be a great mistake to venture into the world of Indian cooking without taking Kishore by the hand as your guide.”
The book is a collection of essays part memoir/part travelogue with 100 recipes from different regions of India. Indian cuisine has a rich legacy of myriad faiths, landscapes and rituals.The book is spiced with the author’s memories and flavored with food stories of traditions myths, Ayurveda Vegetarianism, landscapes and sections on the history festivals, customs, and religions that play a significant role in the history of Indian foods.
Prem Souri Kishore lectures on India at a community college, and has participated as Speaker at Asia Society, Culinary Historians, Los Angeles/San Diego and libraries. The author is also an audio professional, freelance journalist, and volunteer reader for the blind and visually impaired.
Does This Youth Hostel Offer a Senior Discount?: From Beverly Hills to a Chicken Bus, A Tale of a Hollywood Talent Agent Turned Third World Volunteer
Ginger Lawrence has a degree in Telecommunications from the University of Southern California and an extensive background in the entertainment industry. But for the past nine years, Ginger has volunteered as an English teacher in Latin America.
In her book Does This Youth Hostel Offer a Senior Discount? Ginger realizes there’s no expiry on risk-taking as she grapples with colorful volunteer exploits in Latin America. Ginger is not a typical volunteer on her Gap year. This book is the surprising journey of a woman of “a certain age,” chucking a pampered would-be glamorous life as a Hollywood ten percenter to live in an elbow-to-elbow Guatemalan house while teaching English to the poverty-stricken indomitable children of the city garbage dump.
New author Randi Maggid is a breathwork facilitator/ healer who lives in Los Angeles, California with her family. She offers private and group classes in Pranayama yoga breathing, a two-stage breathwork meditation that moves energy in the body releasing stress, unlocking blocks and inviting in ease creating a wondrous sense of well being.
Guided by intuition and a psychic gift, Alix unblocks a torturous past as a young Jewish girl in Beverly Hills, taking us from dysfunction to recovery as we learn the devastating affects of the Holocaust not only on the survivors, but on their children. The daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, the heroine describes the unlikely struggle of growing up in a beautiful Spanish house in Beverly Hills with the weight of the concentration camps pressing down on her at every turn. Little did she know her past would catch up with her and cause her years of physical pain. Alix is a sheltered child trying to make sense of a dystopian world surrounded by what appears to be abundance. In this story of hope and liberation, her journey will help any person suffering deep trauma to know that healing is possible. Her story encourages people to heal themselves on levels deeper than they ever thought possible by tapping into that inner voice through creativity and faith, activating the power to change their situation. Leading others to take risks, focusing on gratitude, taking alternate healing routes, and opening their hearts to love, nature and wholeness, Alix transmutes not only herself, but also the lives of future generations.
Véronique Maumusson was born in Paris and has been living in the United States with her husband and her children since 1997. She is a philosophy graduate from Ecole Normale Supérieure, and has a D.E.A. from La Sorbonne. She taught philosophy before becoming a journalist and a writer. She has published numerous non fiction books. La tentation de l’indifférence is her first novel. She is currently working on her second novel.
The book tells the story of Anne, a philosophy student coming from Normandy to Paris in 1938 to study at the Sorbonne. She is in her sophomore year, and she comes from an underprivileged family, but was able to study thanks to the generosity of a charitable rich lady. When she arrives in Paris, she befriends a group of privileged bright students and falls in love with Pierre, the brightest of all of them. They are all young and they would like to just enjoy life, but the war happens. Paris is occupied, and everything is going to change for all of them. Some of them will chose the resistance, others the collaboration. Leo, the Jewish friend will have to leave. Anne would like to remain indifferent, but won’t be able to. Finally, destiny will catch up with her and Pierre.
La Tentation de l’indifférence was published in France in January 2015.
John Man typically writes non-fiction books that explore his interests in Asia and the history of written communication. Most of the time, he mixes history, narrative and personal experience. Ultimately, his journey is his reaction against an enclosed, secure, rural childhood in Kent.
Saladin remains one of the most iconic figures of his age. As the man who united the Arabs and saved Islam from Christian crusaders in the 12th century, he is the Islamic world’s preeminent hero. Ruthless in defence of his faith, brilliant in leadership, he also possessed qualities that won admiration from his Christian foes. He knew the limits of violence, showing such tolerance and generosity that many Europeans, appalled at the brutality of their own people, saw him as the exemplar of their own knightly ideals.
But Saladin is far more than a historical hero. Builder, literary patron and theologian, he is a man for all times, and a symbol of hope for an Arab world once again divided. Centuries after his death, in cities from Damascus to Cairo and beyond, to the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf, Saladin continues to be an immensely potent symbol of religious and military resistance to the West. He is central to Arab memories, sensibilities and the ideal of a unified Islamic state.
Piero Morales is a physicist with a deep interest in nature, arts and music in particular. Born in Rome, as a teenager he attended classical studies, and turned his attention to science at the University, the symmetries of physics (and their violations) being strongly suggestive to him of concepts related to beauty and arts. More recently, in an attempt to understand the contradictions of present days’ society, he has tackled technological issues, and is deeply involved in bio-nanotechnology as a principal investigator in different research projects. He has published two novels: “Vette – Donne, passioni, musica e tragedia” and “La Famiglia”, published by “TEXMAT”; and a short story, “Due ore all’Auditorium”, published by “Altromondo”.
“Vette” is the story of an encounter which, although possible and even likely, has never happened. The encounter between two giants on the artistic stage of the transition between Illuminism and Romanticism, depicted with their human weaknesses and miseries, as surrounded by a crowd of famous and less famous people of those times. A German musician and a Greek-Italian poet who ends his life in London. Two men who met with suffering and glory, two men who died neglected and miserable in spite of their achievements. The two artists set the bases of the new Romantic art in the course of a dangerous and even tragic trek on the Alps, while seeking the Height and projecting their artistic beliefs in the future. They are guided by Beauty, here represented by a mysterious woman who recalls the beauty of all the women who had guided the two in the course of their lives. In Italian.
“La Famiglia” is a peculiar detective story. A foreign girl is murdered in the home where she works, and the family she works for disappears during a vacation in the USA. There is no possible hint to solve the case for Police Lieutenant Mattioli, except the fact that the murderer was seeking some important document in the house. And by studying thousands of messed up documents and letters Mattioli gets involved in a much older, intriguing and fascinating case, possibly, but not clearly, connected with the present crime. This concerns the former owner of the apartment, a young attractive woman, an intellectual and academic in the postwar period, who has a dramatic struggle with a powerful family of renown publishers. In Italian.
Frank Van Riper; Photographs by Frank Van Riper and Judith Goodman
Signed copies are available through authors’ website.
Venice, Italy, is a destination wrapped in mystery, history and romance. So popular has this floating miracle become—and so overwhelmed by tourists during the summer—that its mayor once proposed limiting entry by sightseers as if through a series of turnstiles. But the real Venice can best be seen when the tourists venture back home to Western Europe, the US and Japan. In their stunning book, Serenissima: Venice in Winter, husband and wife documentary photographers Frank Van Riper and Judith Goodman provide a combination of fine art and journalistic photography twinned with lyrical text to capture the visual magic that occurs when “the most serene republic” reclaims itself as a living, breathing city and once more becomes, in the words of acclaimed writer Jan Morris, a place “of water-filled streets…velvet shadows and footsteps echoing off paving stones in the post-midnight silence…”
Six years in the making and shot entirely in black and white, Serenissima: Venice in Winter combines brilliant architectural imagery with documentary photography in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and the great Italian photojournalist Gianni Berengo Gardin. Frank Van Riper’s text reflects the same literary mastery that won him a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard and national acclaim as a biographer, political journalist, Washington Post photography columnist and bestselling author.
Published in 2008 by Hudson Hills Press (US); Grafiche Vianello Libri (Italy)
Fiona Sampson has twice been shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot and Forward Prizes. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and awarded a Cholmondeley Award,the Newdigate Prize, and the Zlaten Prsten (Macedonia), among others. A Fellow and Council Member of the Royal Society of Literature, she is Professor of Poetry at the University of Roehampton.
Fiona Sampson’s latest collection transforms the sensory world into an astonishingly new and vivid poetry. Here, dream and myth, creatures real and imagined, and the sights and sounds of ‘distance and of home’ all coalesce in a sustained meditation on time and belonging.
Combining formal sophistication with metaphysical exploration, this is an incandescent work of renewal, beauty and risk.
Suzanne Saxe-Roux & Jean P. Roux
Writing this book as husband and wife was both a blessing and a bit of a challenge at times. Deciding to write the book through Suzanne’s voice was a major decision and one in which her dear husband gracefully acknowledged was the right one. They hope that when you read this book you hear both of their voices and know that it us our story and our writing together- a true partnership. The decision to make this a story and life guidebook comes from their desire to inspire and empower. The story only goes so far, but putting big and small changes into action takes courage. They hope this book inspires and empowers you to live the life you dream of and with great joie de vivre.
Ever wonder how to bring the tranquility, balance and joie de vivre of a Provencal afternoon into your lifestyle – wherever you live? Reeling from the stress of life as dual career parents and from eye-opening struggles with infertility and cancer, Suzanne Saxe-Roux and her husband Jean P. Roux do what millions of people only dream of: leave their jobs, rent out their home and move to the south of France with a young daughter in tow. There, they unplug and search for the joie de vivre missing for so many modern families. It is an act of taking back control of life in small and big ways, reclaiming their creative sides while embracing a change of priorities and pace. Courage and Croissants brings readers along on this journey. A gripping memoir and guidebook, it reveals the secrets of French joie de vivre that Suzanne and Jean discovered and maps out the steps to recapturing simplicity, joy, happiness, and the ability to follow your dreams and lifestyle choices wherever you are.
This encouraging guide introduces the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga and explains how readers can learn to work with their own body type to perform postures safely and effectively. Sections include Chair Yoga, Bed Yoga, Travel Yoga, Office Yoga, and Anywhere Yoga. Each chapter features step-by-step instructions and clear, corresponding illustrations. In every picture, the moves are performed by regular yoga practitioners and not intimidating masters. For people with physical limitations or illnesses, the book focuses on stretching, pain prevention and reduction, relieving stress, and helping with symptoms of sickness. The postures work out every part of the body, and the book also features exercises that can be done in comfortable positions with many simpler alternatives. For frequent travelers there are stretches to relieve commuter stress, keep flexible, and prevent blood clots, jet lag, and anxiety. With no acrobatics needed, these postures can be done anywhere, from standing in line to watching TV.
In Elvis Presley: A Southern Life, one of the most admired Southern historians of our time takes on one of the greatest cultural icons of all time. The result is a masterpiece: a vivid, gripping biography, set against the rich backdrop of Southern society–indeed, American society–in the second half of the twentieth century.
Author of The Crucible of Race and William Faulkner and Southern History, Joel Williamson is a renowned historian known for his inimitable and compelling narrative style. In this tour de force biography, he captures the drama of Presley’s career set against the popular culture of the post-World War II South. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley was a contradiction, flamboyant in pegged black pants with pink stripes, yet soft-spoken, respectfully courting a decent girl from church. Then he wandered into Sun Records, and everything changed. “I was scared stiff,” Elvis recalled about his first time performing on stage. “Everyone was hollering and I didn’t know what they were hollering at.” Girls did the hollering–at his snarl and swagger. Williamson calls it “the revolution of the Elvis girls.” His fans lived in an intense moment, this generation raised by their mothers while their fathers were away at war, whose lives were transformed by an exodus from the countryside to Southern cities, a postwar culture of consumption, and a striving for upward mobility. They came of age in the era of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, which turned high schools into battlegrounds of race. Explosively, white girls went wild for a white man inspired by and singing black music while “wiggling” erotically. Elvis, Williamson argues, gave his female fans an opportunity to break free from straitlaced Southern society and express themselves sexually, if only for a few hours at a time.
Rather than focusing on Elvis’s music and the music industry, Elvis Presley: A Southern Life illuminates the zenith of his career, his period of deepest creativity, which captured a legion of fans and kept them fervently loyal for decades. Williamson shows how Elvis himself changed–and didn’t. In the latter part of his career, when he performed regular gigs in Las Vegas and toured second-tier cities, he moved beyond the South to a national audience who had bought his albums and watched his movies. Yet the makeup of his fan base did not substantially change, nor did Elvis himself ever move up the Southern class ladder despite his wealth. Even as he aged and his life was cut short, he maintained his iconic status, becoming arguably larger in death than in life as droves of fans continue to pay homage to him at Graceland.
Appreciative and unsparing, culturally attuned and socially revealing, Williamson’s Elvis Presley will deepen our understanding of the man and his times.